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Wed Mar 25, 2020, 08:13 PM

Anti-Choice Politicians Are Using the Coronavirus Crisis to Deny Abortion Rights

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, while the rest of the nation is focusing on staying healthy and social distancing, anti-abortion politicians and movement leaders have been doing the only thing they know — pursuing an agenda to shut down abortion clinics. Capitalizing on the mantra to never let a crisis go to waste, they are succeeding in ways they never could, absent the global public-health nightmare.

The chief vehicle they have been using is shutting down what they deem nonessential health care. By now, most people are familiar with orders from mayors or governors that only essential businesses can remain open. Most places that have put these orders in place have also specified that medical facilities can no longer perform elective or nonessential procedures.

And that’s just the opening anti-abortion activists needed. Unlike the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and several other medical organizations that quickly announced that “abortion should not be categorized as such a procedure [because] abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care,” anti-abortion politicians have tried to order clinics to close. Dave Yost, the anti-abortion attorney general of Ohio, wrote to clinics last week that they must “immediately stop performing nonessential or elective surgical abortions.” And Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office released a statement that “no one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers.”

Right now, clinics in Ohio and Texas are still operating and are considering their legal options. They are pointing to the reality that delaying abortion can result in harmful consequences to patients. As ACOG recognized in its statement last week, and the Supreme Court wrote in its 2016 abortion decision, delay in accessing abortion care increases the cost of care, heightens the risk of complications, times women out of simpler medical procedures, and risks pushing them past the legal limit for abortion. For instance, Ohio and Texas ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy.


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